AMERICUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Some go to school for English and math degrees, others go to work on race cars. August is Motorsports Awareness Month in the United States, and South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) is one of two schools in the state which offers a motorsports vehicle technology program.

The four-semester long program takes on 10 to 12 students a semester and focuses on preparing them for an entry-level position at a professional racing team shop. While the course does not cover specific technological advancements in racing, it provides basic instruction and familiarity with sports-, stock-, drag- and open-wheel cars, according to course instructor Kevin Beaver.

“I think motorsports changes daily,” said Beaver. “So that side of it changes a lot, but the curriculum will stay the same.”

The motorsports instructor explained he got into working with race cars from a young age. His father owned a performance engine building shop, Beaver Racing Engines. Beaver said he has a history of working with local professional racing teams.

SGTC President John Watford noted the school’s motorsports program costs $100 per credit hour. The program requires a minimum of 54 credit hours to graduate, although there are several certificates housed within the program which students can seek out if they do not want a full degree.

“We’re continually looking at ways that we can strengthen that program and build it so that it satisfies the individual needs of all our consumers and all our students,” said Watford.  

In recent years, students have gone on to work with professional racing teams or with garages. Program alumni Garrett Kennedy, 22, graduated in 2021 and soon moved on to working with the Hendrick Motorsports racing team.

“I was there for Kyle Larson’s championship [in 2021] and that was an incredible moment,” said Kennedy, referring to the 2021 NASCAR series champion and Hendrick Motorsports racer. In April 2023, Larson was added to NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers list.

Kennedy recalled watching the race with the entirety of the Hendrick team as they gathered inside a local minor league stadium. To-date, Larson has 21 race wins, 99 top-5 finishes, 158 top-10 finishes, 16 pole positions and one NASCAR series champion title, according to Hendrick’s website.

According to Kennedy, his Hendrick Motorsports job involved 3D printing parts for the racing vehicle. This was not a topic covered at SGTC but Kennedy said the course prepared to enter into a professional racing environment.

He said his Hendrick Motorsports job built upon knowledge already learned at SGTC. Kennedy was already familiar with parts through the program, so he was better prepared to conceptualize and adapt parts with 3D printing.

“It’s very fulfilling, because it’s very much, you get to see the product that you’re working on,” said Kennedy. He added, “You know, your end goal is to produce wins and when you produce a win, you’re like, ‘Oh, we did that. We contributed to that.’”

Kennedy transferred from working with Hendrick Motorsports to Hendrick Automotive Group earlier this summer. He said he plans to stay in the performance vehicle industry for the foreseeable future.

According to LinkedIn, the motorsports industry was worth over 56,000 million in 2022 and is expected to reach a value of over 122,600 million by 2028.